Burger King bravely celebrates mouldy burger in new ad campaign

Burger King has elicited massive publicity – and visceral but impactful reactions – to another controversial ad launch, the ‘Moldy Whopper’ campaign.

Burger King has announced the removal of artificial preservatives from the Whopper in more than 400 US locations, an endeavour that will reach all American outlets by the end of this year.

The brand is also declaring that more than 90% of all its food ingredients are free from artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives, and that it has removed MSG and high-fructose corn syrup from all food items.

To mark the occasion, the company decided to adapt Morgan Spurlock’s famous McDonald’s experiment into this advertising spot.

You may recall that, as part of his award-winning 2004 documentary, Super Size Me, director Morgan Spurlock put a selection of McDonald’s food, along with a burger and fries from a local diner, in glass jars to observe and compare the decomposition process.

To see a burger and french fries appear pristine and appetising after 10 weeks out on the counter was decidedly unsettling to viewers, and made a bold impression. This ad spot does exactly the same.

“Instead of featuring its product with the classic, flawless, and often perfect photographic style commonly used to showcase fast food products, the Burger King brand let its most iconic product rot to make a powerful statement…”Burger King press release

Of course, some may baulk at utilising fuzzy green mould to sell food, but here that fungus has a purpose to convince viewers that this BK burger, however inherently unhealthy, isn’t also loaded with unnecessary chemicals.

“Most advertising claims have lost all meaning after decades of less-than-devout commitments to the truth, so here BK does the only logical thing and shows us the receipts for its claim,” says FastCompany commentator, Jeff Beer.

“What makes this thing so mouldy and gross is what makes it good. All that, and with the subtle Super Size Me nod, the brand has also found yet another way to troll its Golden Arched rival.”

Adopting a gross-out concept to promote the message of shifting to a more natural Whopper offering has been a publicity hit, with the “Moldy Whopper” spot accumulating some 1.7 million YouTube views shortly after its its Feb 19 debut.

Source: FastCompany.com, Burger King

Related reading: Do shock tactics reek of brand desperation?